IWSG: Beta Readers

Logo for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Picture of a lighthouse with text reading "THE INSECURE WRITER'S SUPPORT GROUP"

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!


The awesome co-hosts for the September 2 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando, J Lenni Dorner, Deniz Bevan, Kim Lajevardi, Natalie Aguirre, and Louise – Fundy Blue!
September 2 question – If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

If I could have any author as a beta reader? To be honest, I think I’d stick with the people who are already beta reading for me. They’re not big-name, bestselling authors, yet, but then, neither am I.

I might add one or two of my regular blog readers. Some of their work is amazing.

The thing is… beta reading is largely based on being comfortable enough with the other person to make comments about their work, and to listen to theirs without necessarily believing their opinion is a declaration of Truth from On High. Names did pop into my head, when I read this month’s question. But I can see myself fangirling out over those writers.

Fangirl: Oh. You think my happy space opera needs to end in a sapient velociraptor attack? No survivors?

That is the BEST IDEA EVER!

Nope. That’s more of a What are you on, and why aren’t you sharing? moment.

As nice as it is to think that someone mega-famous (or, you know, geek-famous) could swoop down and fix all my manuscript’s problems, the truth is, they can’t. I’d be prone to taking suggestions from my heros as commands.

I’m better off building the beta-reading relationship from where I’m standing. You know. With someone I can look in the eye, and tell them they’re wrong. With someone whose opinion is just… different. Not necessarily right. With someone who doesn’t automatically assume I’m right, either.

What I would benefit from is being able to sit in on critique group sessions between people who are further along in their careers and observe the dynamic between them. Just a peek. Enough to learn what kind of questions to ask, and how to get people to follow up on their responses.


  1. Debbie Johansson


    I think it’s great that you have a good group of beta readers. You’re lucky to have them! 🙂

  2. Reply

    That’s a really good way of looking at it. It does seem a better idea to share beta reading with fellow authors that are on a similar path. I think I would take a favourite famous author’s words as commands, too, and that wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing!

  3. Reply

    It does need to be an ‘equal power, standing at equal footing’ type of relationship, yes. Although sentient velociraptors are never out of place in a space opera.

  4. Loni Townsend


    That’s a great line of thinking. I wouldn’t trade my longest standing critique partner or my critique group for anyone, but I wouldn’t argue input from the bigger names. 🙂

    • Reply

      I’d love input from the bigger names… but I might wind up doing things that I’d regret in the long term.

  5. Reply

    That is a great answer. If I’d done the question this month, I’d have a similar answer. So much of a good beta depends upon them knowing your voice.

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